Local February 18, 2016 | 12:46 pm

Dominican leader’s defense of lawmakers’ slush fund ‘disappointing’

Santo Domingo.- Prominent attorney Namphi Rodriguez on Thursdaysaid it’s disappointing that president Danilo Medina "intends to ignore” theCentral Electoral Board’s (JCE) decision to suspend the lawmakers’ slush fundsknown as “el barrilito” (little barrel) and the “cofresito” (little coffer)during the current election campaign

The lawyer, head of the Press and Law Foundation, said inhis meeting Wednesday with media directors Medina offered a "legalistichint for his disagreement with the decision and continue the practice ofkeeping the national budget for activities aimed at cronyism."

"I was disappointed that Danilo Medina defended the barreland the coffer tooth-and-nail, knowing that it’s a patronage and unfairpractice in the elections."

The lawyer said in the meeting Medina questioned the JCE’sauthority to suspend the disbursement of funds to deputies and senators, “arguingthat the people see the legislators as people with the ability to help.”

He said Medina’s argument seeks to ignore that the budgetallocation is unfair, "since the funds favor lawmakers who already earn asalary at the expense of their competitors, who aren’t deputies orsenators."

"Society should remain alert because this argument isaimed at establishing a policy to try to continue disbursing budget funds witha conflictive norm for cronyism activities," he said, quoted by localmedia.

"The legislator’s work is as representative, notsharing money or perks in exchange for political loyalty. It’s a shame that thehead of state wants to ignore it, because what interests him is to impose an officialhegemony over Congress with public funds," added the expert on constitutionallaw.

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